It’s funny how we can spend so much time with some people and yet still lose touch with them. As children get older they start to need you less and exert their independence, this happens from before they turn 2! How do you manage to recreate a wavering strong bond with your kids?
With every developmental stage your child spends more time interested in different things to you, and because they are more independent you can focus on other things too. As they get older you will take on more work or be able to spend more time getting chores done or focussing on yourself or your friends.
When they are babies we start looking forward to the time when they won’t cling to us so much and we can get back our personal space. But as soon as we get this, parents realise it is more important than ever, we want to create a strong bond with your kids again. What are some tips to reconnect with your kids?
Bond with your kids and reconnect
Find shared interests
You may not find your child’s passions all that interesting, and chances are, they don’t think your interests are all that great either. So, look together for interests that you can share.
Take up new hobbies or sports together like art and craft, soccer, yoga, cooking or comics. Read a chapter book together a bit each night, and then perhaps watch the movie adaptation together when you are done. Find a video game that you both enjoy (it is possible!) and then play this together as a special time together.
Make time to enjoy each other’s company without fighting or nagging, and give your child a chance to see that you can laugh, be silly and have fun sometimes too. If your still stuck for ideas – ask your child – what would you like to do with Mummy/Daddy?
Open up opportunities for them to talk
Trying to force your kids to tell you how their day was is the best possible way to get them to clam up. When you take part in activities together like playing in the park, walking or cooking together you give your child more opportunities to open up and talk to you about things when they are ready.
Give them time with you so they can talk when they need it, and make sure that they know you are open to listening to what they have to say. Set up the opportunity for this and then communication will naturally flow from here. It will start to come naturally when the bond with your kids is strengthened and they know you are there to listen and help them.
Give yourselves chances to have conversations about things that don’t involve arguing or nagging. Discuss abstract ideas, encourage bizarre questions and support your child’s learning and interests. Car rides I find often very interesting topics of conversations have happened. Everything from what sort of cars there are, what they want to be when they grow up, to random topics about skeletons!
Cook and eat together
This activity helps reduce your workload a little as well, which is fantastic. Spend time teaching your children to cook and once they are confident, let them make dinner once a week once they are a bit older. I still remember when I was 11 or 12 and cooking the family meal once a week – I even cooked Swedish meatballs once! Just this week my kids were having a bit of an argument (three big kids!) and one was getting quite emotional so I asked him to come inside and help me. It was a simple helping me cut up celery for dinner (with a kid safe knife of course) but he loved it! He quickly calmed down and was super proud to be helping me with dinner.
Encourage them to choose meals they would like to make or discover new cuisines together. Buy a piece of fruit or a vegetable that you have never tried before and research how to use it.
Eating together is another great time to open up conversations with your kids, and you will find that when they help you cook they are much better at eating it without argument. We always try and eat dinner around our table at night as it such an important habit to start when they are little. No distractions of technology and just talk about our days. (Except Friday night movie nights of course!)
Schedule screen free family time
And let them choose what you do together. Each school holidays a friend of mine lets each child choose an excursion or activity for the whole family; her kids love this and they talk about what they will choose all throughout the next school term. This is the perfect time right now with school holidays just a few weeks away. I was talking to my big girl last night about what activity or place she would like to go in the holidays. Ice skating was the request so Darwin Ice Skating here we come!
Rituals and moments that are special just to your family group can be incredibly powerful as well as enormous fun. It doesn’t have to be extravagant; family games night or movie night with homemade popcorn, a scavenger hunt around your neighbourhood, riding in the park or playing soccer together, or taking them to a play centre, pool or the water park. We have movie night every Friday night. I normally make homemade pizzas and we have popcorn and the kids take it in turn to pick the movie! They look forward to Fridays every week!
Connect with their friends
Or at least show interest in hearing about their friends. These other children may seem weird and if given the choice you might come up with better companions for your kids, but they like these ones. As long as they are not enticing them into criminal activity, support their friendships by asking your child about their friends and inviting them into your home and family activities as well.
Schedule a monthly date with each child
Have a regular date with each child, or just with one child and one parent, whatever works for your family. This is extra important if you have multiple kids and someone also gets lost in the middle, or if you have a baby and maybe neglecting slightly your older one.
Go to a café for milkshakes or to the movies or take them tenpin bowling. Make an event of it and make sure that you stick to it. Your child will appreciate this time and effort more than you could ever know, and getting into the habit of doing this when they are younger opens up such a better foundation for when they are teenagers.
Have a slumber party
I love this idea, it is so silly and will take you right back to when you were a child.
A great way to bond with your kids is to plan a family slumber party! Camp out in the yard if you can handle it, or in the lounge room or all together in your bed. Watch a movie together, play games and have a midnight feast. Tell ghost stories or ridiculous jokes, play karaoke and have a dance party.
Yes, you will sleep badly, but that isn’t the point of this night, and once in a while this won’t matter.
Take a road trip
We are so often in the car together but just trying to rush from one place to the next. Take a whole day or an afternoon for a road trip and make the journey more of the focus rather than the destination.
Put together word games that you can all play. Ban screens and books; everything has to be interactive. Choose somewhere interesting to go so they are looking forward to it, but make the whole day about time together. Or just give them a map and let them choose a place.
Another awesome idea is taking public transport together; grown-ups hate public transport but kids adore it. Take the bus or a train together; again it doesn’t matter where you go. The experience is the adventure. There is even a double decker tourist bus that goes to various attractions around Darwin city and the surrounds – why not book a trip on this one weekend! A perfect idea to bond with your kids and have a fun day out!
Put them to bed mindfully
As parents, there are probably a hundred things we’d rather be doing than trying to settle our kids into bed. But this can be such a great time to bond with your kids. It can be the perfect time to have one on one time and snuggle into your child. I know my kids really adore this time with me.
Be fully in the moment and focus on what your child is saying, or on having this small amount of focussed time with each individual child every day. Read to them or let them read to you. Lie in bed with them and ask them questions about life.
Put on a mindfulness app or meditation and practice this together, or listen to a chapter of an audio book. Rub their back for a full two minutes, counting slowly, and concentrate on feeling the warmth of their skin in your fingertips.
Slow this time of day right down – it not only helps you to connect with each other but it also helps them wind down for bed.
I hope these tips to bond with your kids and reconnect are helpful. If you have any suggestions for things that really work for your family, we’ve love to hear about it!
If you would like some more fun activities around the house to do with your kids – check out Our Top 20 easy home activities to entertain the kids.